What's Up With Xbox Media Center

February 28, 2005

RSS + Bittorrent

Hey guys. This was originally posted on my main site. I thought I'd modify it to post it here as well, since it pertains to Xbmc and news has been so slow. I hope you find it helpful.

I wanted to take a second and explain exactly how I'm using RSS and Bittorrent to download the television shows I watch. I use a combination of Azureus & an RSS plugin to download the shows, and Xbox Media Center to watch them. My current setup consists of a PC running Suse 9.2 that is strictly used as my Media Server. It has two storage drives, one for movies and one for tv seasons/episodes. All of my content is kept on this computer. I have an Xbox running Xbox Media Center downstairs in my living room and another one in my bedroom. Both Xboxs play the content off of my Media Server through SMB shares. All of my content is centrally located and accessible from each television in my home. No media is needed, and no media is used. Between this and my iPods, I don't use media anymore, just mass storage. All of my DVDs serve as backups after I rip them into my Media Server.

So lets get on with it.

Safe Keeping

Tv FolderFirst off, I'd like to go into some detail about the directory structure I use for my setup. I have an entire 100 gig drive dedicated to television in my Media Server. At the root of the drive I have three directories. Downloading, Torrents, and TV. The Downloading folder is my default download folder for Azureus. The Torrents folder is where I have told Azureus to put all the torrent files it captures. And my TV folder contains everything that I actually share to my Xbmc. Tv ShareIt contains three folders. Full Seasons, Now Playing, and Specials. Full Seasons contains folders for each show that I archive. Now Playing is where all my new shows get moved to once they are done downloading. Once I've watched them, I archive them to Full Seasons. Specials contains random shows and content that are not affiliated to any kind of series.

A Few Options

There are 2 RSS plugins for Azureus. The one I use isn't available for download for some reason. And the one that IS available stinks, so I'm going to provide you guys with the plugin I use.

Azureus OptionsAfter installing Azureus there are a couple options I set to make my system more user friendly. Open up the options and choose Files. From here I set the default download directory. All files that are downloaded to this directory will be moved to another directory once completed, if the option is set. Next, I set the directory for Move Completed Files To. Full Seasons FolderThe reason I use these options is for usability. When sharing to my Xbmc, the directories Now Playing and Full Seasons are both available. I set my Move Completed Files To directory to the Now Playing directory inside my TV share, and the default download directory is the Download folder outside of my share at the root of the drive. The point of all of this is so my incomplete televisions shows are not available until properly completed. What happens is that Azureus begins to download a show and puts it into Downloads, once its done, it gets moved to Now Playing, and is then available to my Xbmc.

Usability Sidenote
Each show can be set to download to its own directory, but I like to seperate my new content from my old content. By creating a Now Playing directory, I know that everything inside of this folder is new. Inside my Full Seasons folder I have a folder for each show that I archive. So instead of having to check each folder for new content, I only have to check one. Once I've watched the shows inside of Now Playing, they're old and I manually archive them into the Full Seasons folder.

Feeds and Seeds

Once I have Azureus setup and the RSS plugin installed, I choose RSSfeed from the Plugins menu. This will bring up a tab dedicated to the plugin. I choose this tab and it will display multiple tabs below it: Status, Options, Download History, and Help.

  • Status - Lists the RSS feeds and their respective items
  • Options - The meat and potatoes of the plugin. Here is where shows and feeds are added.
  • Download History - This pane will show all of the shows that have been picked from the feeds to download.
  • Help - This gives a little info on what RSS feeds are and how to use this plugin.

RSS StatusRSS Options

RSS HistoryRSS Help

First let's go to the Options tab and add an RSS feed. Feeds can be added from any torrent site that I'd like, and as many as I want. I add a feed by clicking the Plus button. This prompts me for a few options on the right. I name my feed, set the URL for the feed, and set the path for where shows pulled from this feed will be downloaded. Here I choose the same place I set as the default download directory. That way, when shows are downloaded to this directory and completed, they will be moved. Next I choose accept and my feed is set up and saved.

Time to add some shows to download. The RSS feed plugin uses Regular Expressions to search each feed for the shows I am looking for. Regular Expressions can be tough to wrap your head around, but I'll keep it really simple, and you'll just need to use about one type to get the shows.

By clicking the Plus button, I add a new filter. There are quite a few options I am able to set here, but I'm going to just go over the ones that are important.

Name: Set the name of the filter, I like to just use the name of the show.
I leave this blank and the download directory will be inherited from the feed the show is downloaded from.

Show OptionsFilters: Here is where I add the regular expression to use to search the feed for this particular show. Basically, all I do here is place the name of the show into this field. The plugin then searches each item in the RSS feed for this name, and if it contains it, it will download the torrent and start the download. If the show has more than one word, I place the characters ".*" in between the first and last words. For example, Will & Grace (will.*grace). What this does is tell the RSS feed plugin to find an item in the feed that starts with will and ends with grace, with anything else in between it. So it is able to find Will & Grace. If an item in the feed happens to be something like Will Builds a House For Grace this too will be downloaded, but there isn't much of a chance that this will happen. You may find that some shows' words will overlap as is the case for Mr. Las Vegas and Las Vegas, I will correct this later with excludes.

Feed: Choose the feed to use while searching for this show.
Active: Check this box to make this filter active.
Mode: Set this to pass.

Choose accept and the show is now added.

No, Not You

Now that I have added a show, I want to assure I don't download extra shows, or the wrong format. One of the best features of this plugin is that it allows you to set a Pass or Fail flag for each filter. So if I add a filter and set it to Pass, it will be downloaded, if its set to Fail, it will be skiped. This comes in handy with VCD or HDTV rips. Instead of searching specifically for HDTV rips for each show, I have instead excluded all VCD rips. By having a whole filter named No VCD that searches for the word "vcd" and mode set to Fail, the plugin reaches an item in the feed that matches this filter and skips it. This keeps it from downloading any vcd rips. The only thing left is HDTV rips.

Excludes also work well when TV shows' names overlap. In the case I explained earlier, there is a show called Las Vegas as well as Mr. Las Vegas, I added a Pass filter for Las Vegas(las.*vegas), but had to add a Fail filter for Mr. Las Vegas(mr.*las). One last Fail filter I've added is to keep Azureus from downloading full seasons of shows I have set to download.

Finishing Up

Now that my directories are setup, my shows are added, and my excludes are in place, I'm pretty much finished with the configuration. Now all I have to do is wait. Azureus will check the feed every 60 mins, and as soon as my shows wind up in the feed, the torrent file will be downloaded and automatically started. It will be placed into my default download directory, and once finished, will be moved to my Now Playing directory.


With Xbmc in the equation, all my downloading happens on my Media Server and is totally transparent to me. I just kick on my Xbmc and navigate to my Tv section and check the Now Playing folder. Bam...there are all my new shows. If I want to watch an older show, I go to the Full Seasons folder, and browse for something to watch.

Xbmc TvXbmc Full Seasons

So as you can see, this system can be a very powerful one. I've been using it for quite some time now, and its great. I love it. I've given up my Tivo for the great quality of these formats. You just can't beat it.


RSS Feed Plugin

UPDATE: A reader brought to my attention, that while not only does the RSS Feed plugin that I provided not work, its still available. Its not supported anymore, but it IS available for download here.


  • Very nice post

    By Blogger Matt, at 7:10 AM  

  • Oh I got a question. Since most (or all) of your TV shows are XVID, do you ever have stuttered playback? See, my home uses 10/100 and when the home network is not under heavy use then playback of XVID files over a network is perfect. But, my networks bandwidth is always in use because other people are using other computers around the house and I am always downloading a TV show. Do you have any tips to speed up performance because I got everything, but now need to speed things up.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:12 AM  

  • Since its just my fiance and I at home, there isn't usually much cross network traffic. I'm almost constantly doing some kind of file transfer though, but that won't affect any transfers from my Media Server to my Xboxs. I'm actually currently running 10 megabit, cause I need to replace a switch in the middle of my network. Take a look at which computers are doing most transfers on your network and maybe work around it. Try to get a direct connection between your Media Server and Xbox, where no other computers are onthe same line.

    By Blogger Jon, at 8:59 AM  

  • Got it, that makes sense to have a dedicated computer be a media server. My main comp, which is in use all the time regardless of me being on it, is the one that streams XVID's to XBMC. Thanks for the help.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:53 PM  

  • This is exactly what I've been doing too. xbmc rocks as a front-end. What app are you using to rip dvds to your media center (and are you using any compression, i.e. divx)??

    By Anonymous jericho, at 9:08 PM  

  • Yah, i'm definatly using compression. I strictly use Xvid for my dvds using DD 5.1 and a bitrate of 1100kb+ 1300kb for my LOTR extended editions I backed up for myself.

    I was using dvd decrypter and autoGK when my server was running XP, but not that its Suse, i haven't been ripping anything. I've havne't gotten a solid app to do my ripping yet. If you're not using autoGK for dvds on windows, GO GET IT NOW.

    By Blogger Jon, at 9:14 PM  

  • i have to agree on AutoGK. I used dr. divx for a long time and really liked it but just started using autogk and will never look back (want to buy a used copy of Dr. D ? :-) ).

    it handles subtitles so well and really is robust. Nice bit of work there...and nice post Jon.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:17 PM  

  • Hejhej, first let me thank you for your cool xbmc blog. Love it! And I am using the rss feed reader as well but tried your version just a couple of minutes ago, as the screenshots were so very different and your plugin seems to have more options than mine. But I have to tell you that the content of your zip is not working. In fact it's implementing into Azureus but I was not able to add feeds to it. Also the file rssfeed.options is obsolete as it will be created on first start.

    But you can download the plugin officially here.

    Anyway, thanks for your great site and your tutorial!

    A constant reader...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:17 PM  

  • ahh thanks, i didn't think it was available anymore. I guess it is, its just not supported. Anywho, its a much better RSS plugin than the other one available ;) thanks for the heads up, i'll update the article.

    By Blogger Jon, at 4:25 PM  

  • i'll check out autogk. kudos on the post as well (this was the first i've seen on xbmc w/rss + bt). are you happy w/picture quality after ripping dvds w/autogk? I'm wondering how this looks on a bigscreen. I have a 50" dlp, and hdtv episodes look great.

    By Anonymous jericho, at 6:14 PM  

  • The picture quality is very comperable to dvd for its small file size, its about 1/6 the size of a dvd. and you can make it look better if you want, just up the bitrate. I've never used xbmc on an hd widescreen tv, but if you say the tv rips look good, autoGK rips will look fine, i rip at about 1100-1300 kbps, and thats way higher than the tv rips are, they are generally 750-950kbps.

    Glad to know that the xvid rips will look fine on the big screen!! i've always wondered.

    By Blogger Jon, at 8:34 PM  

  • Jon I am wondering about how you handle the reseeding of torrents. I was using some client where I could set a ratio to like 200% and then stop seeding. How do you keep torrents from staying open indefinately and continuing use bwidth ?

    Thanks I am setting my system up like yours this weekend.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:36 PM  

  • Thats a problem I've ran into already. I haven't done a TON of research on it, but I couldn't find a way to tell it to stop seeding after a certain amount of time.

    It'd be nice if Azureus put this in there, and had a min of 1:1, so users could auto remove the seeds, but still be forced to upload at least 100% once.

    If anyone has a trick for this or knows something we don't please leave a comment. Thanks!

    By Blogger Jon, at 3:41 PM  

  • Ok, I just did a little more research, and while I didn't find anything new, I did notice that Azureus had stopped seeding some of my completes.

    Investigating more, if you look under Options -> Queue -> Seeding, there are some options under there, including Ignore Rules, I think it is here that you can set things to be ignored.

    Try it out and let me know what you can come up with, I'll be doing some testing too.

    By Blogger Jon, at 4:00 PM  

  • For over a month now, the only RSS feed that I've seen with current TV shows is BTEF net at http://www.btefnet.com/backend.php -- all the others, TV Torrents, Varchars, and Loki Torrents don't seem to work any more. Is anyone aware of any other working RSS/bittorrent feeds?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:19 PM  

  • TvTorrents: http://www.tvtorrents.ws/

    Check the article. The link was at the bottom of the page :)

    By Blogger Jon, at 8:03 PM  

  • i'm curious how you handle the file management once you watch a show on your XBMC. I've got a hacked together version similar to what you described - but the thing i miss from the TiVO interface, is the ability to "delete" after i finish watching something (or on the XBMC to move to another directory) just curious how ya'll handle that little task.

    By Anonymous brandon, at 4:03 AM  

  • Yah, this is an issue I have. What you could do is browse your Tv share via My Files, and once you finish a show, you could press 0 on the remote and delete the show.

    But thats a bit ghetto. This is one of the reasons I want Xbmc to have its own Tv section. This would allow specific functionality for tv shows.

    What i do now is basically just watch my shows, and when i want to clean out my Now Playing folder, I do it manually. I archvie all my shows, so I move them to a folder called Full Seasons. That way, at the end of the season, I can just burn them to dvd. And for shows that I don't archive, i just delete.

    By Blogger Jon, at 9:10 AM  

  • Awesome article. I've been thinking of writing a small Perl script to do the downloads, but since I raed your article and set up the RSS feed plugin, I don't need to!

    One note about your regular expressions- I've found that using the "^" symbol works quite well for TV shows (for those who aren't familiar, the "^" symbol means, "only match this expression if it occurs at the beginning of the phrase"). For instance, using a regexp of "^24" will only match titles starting with "24", and not match such things as "The OC 04x24".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:33 PM  

  • good tip, thanks

    By Blogger Jon, at 10:21 PM  

  • I followed all of the steps but it won't connect. Under status it says:
    Failed: java.netConnectException: Connection refused: connect
    and it has a countdown until reload.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:16 AM  

  • if you mean when connecting to an rss feed, then that feed might now exist anymore, verify with your browser that you can reach the rss feed you are trying to use in Azureus.

    By Blogger Jon, at 9:47 AM  

  • BTEF net is the only feed working for me right now. What does is mean when it says I may have a NAT problem? How could I fix that?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:08 PM  

  • yeah, tvtorrents has been down for a few weeks. Stick to btefnet.net.

    As for your NAT issue, check out your router, you need to forward the ports that Azureus is using to the computer that Azureus is running on.

    Heres some sites that should help with that: http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=azureus+forward+port+router&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

    By Blogger Jon, at 5:11 PM  

  • Hey, i just wanted to let you know that RSS Feed is still working fine, you just have to use this link: http://azureus.sourceforge.net/plugin_details.php?plugin=rssfeed

    The other anonymous reader who gave you a link had the wrong link, if you add "&cat=Automation" to the end of the link, it gives you some weird page looking exactly the same with different downloads. This link should work.

    Also, awesome guide, but I still can't find any good RSS feeds.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:59 AM  

  • “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
    - Herman Melville

    RSS is the way of the Future...
    climbing feed rss

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:18 AM  

  • Help! I am lost. I was searching for computer help and somehow ended up here. How that happened I don't know, however I do like your Blog a lot. Would you mind if I add your Blog to my favorites page so others can visit?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:45 PM  

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